A Rally, A Vote in House Committee, on to the Senate!
By Dave Van Hattum, Senior Policy Advocate
Update: On April 2, the Senate Transportation Finance Committee voted 10-7 to approve the comprehensive transportation funding bill supported by TLC and the Move MN coalition! Thanks to Chair Dibble and Senators Carlson, Champion, Franzen, Jensen, Kent, Reinert, Rest, Tomassoni, and Wiger for voting Yes. The committee also gave a strong signal for active transportation when they voted down an amendment proposed by Senator Pratt that would have eliminated dedicated bike/ped funding in the metro. The bill (SF 2107) passed with an author's amendment that makes it almost identical to the companion bill recently approved in the House. This exciting legislation, which provides new funding for transit, bicycling, walking, roads, and bridges statewide, now advances to the Senate Finance Committee.
Finally, it was a warm, sunny spring day. The energy outside the State Capitol on March 13 was matched by energy inside from supporters of the Move MN campaign who gathered to rally for transportation funding.
The afternoon of the rally, Transit for Livable Communities and the Sierra Club hosted a transit and bike/ped advocate workshop. Participants learned more about the transportation funding bill championed by the Move MN coalition (SF 2107/HF 2395), heard directly from bill author and House Transportation Finance Committee Chair Frank Hornstein, and brought their knowledge and passion to meetings with their own representatives and senators at the Capitol. Many legislators heard from their constituents and agreed to keep this critical issue moving forward.
At 4 PM, transit and bike/ped advocates joined with road, bridge, and other transportation supporters to pack the Capitol Rotunda for the Move MN rally. I was struck by the unified message. Local chambers, farm union members, county commissioners, advocates from the disability community, and many more all came together to convey the urgency of acting on transportation in 2014. The spontaneous chant was “Fix it now!”—a call applicable to expanded transit options, safe and convenient bicycling and walking connections, pothole repair, and better roads and bridges to get products and people to market.
Transportation Chairs Dibble and Hornstein reminded the audience that we have the power to fix transportation this session. But we have to keep working daily to build the support for action.
Sen. Dibble and Rep. Hornstein energized Move MN supporters at the March rally. (Photo credit: Val Escher, TLC member)
A packed room for the House Transportation Finance Committee bill hearing. (Photo credit: TLC)
One week later, the House Transportation Finance Committee voted 9-6 to pass the comprehensive transportation funding bill we support! As Chair Hornstein had reminded our advocates, similar legislation did not make it through the House committee in 2013. This bill (HF 2395) provides substantial new funding for transit, bicycling, and walking, as well as roads and bridges, across the state. Transit for Livable Communities has pushed for specific funding for the metro: a ¾-cent increase in the regional sales tax for transit, with a first-ever dedicated percentage for bike/ped projects. We also have worked hard with allies to identify funding sources for Greater Minnesota transit and bike/ped investments.
We've cleared the first hurdle. On to the Senate!
The Senate Transportation Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the companion bill (SF 2107) on Wednesday, April 2, 3-5 PM, in Room 15 at the State Capitol. After the recent win in the House, we want to maintain momentum with a packed Senate hearing room! We will meet TLC members at 2:30 PM in the Rathskeller cafeteria (State Capitol, basement level) before the hearing begins to share signs, buttons, and a quick update. Join us for the full event or as much as you can!
Meanwhile, we encourage you to thank Chair Hornstein and the members of the House Transportation Finance committee who voted Yes: Reps. Connie Bernardy, Raymond Dehn, Ron Erhardt, Alice Hausman, Clark Johnson, Tim Mahoney, Jason Metsa, and Mike Sundin. We are grateful for their leadership on this important issue. (Click here to find their contact information.)
Please continue to urge your legislators to pass transportation funding (SF 2107/HF 2395) this session. You have an opportunity to help us make history—and secure the funding to build a transportation system that works for all Minnesotans.